Must-Try

15 Best Cheese Plates in Philly

By Danya Henninger  |  October 14, 2014
Credit: Danya Henninger

Whether you use it to stimulate your appetite or save it for a final savory note, a cheese plate when dining out a wonderful thing. In one dish, you get to sample a huge variety of textures and flavors, even more so when the chef embellishes each wedge or hunk with unique and complementary condiments. Here’s where to find the 15 best cheese plates in Philadelphia.

1. Talula’s Garden
Aimee Olexy might be Philadelphia’s biggest cheese enthusiast. The long, stand-alone “cheese menu” at her Washington Square dining room pulls on the wares she sources and retails at her two daytime markets, Talula’s Table and Talula’s Daily. At the restaurant, pre-designed flights (“Made in America,” “World Travel”) range from $18-$24, or you’re welcome to build your own.

2. Tria
No pre-set combinations are on the menu at Jon Myerow and Michael McCauley’s cheese-centric wine bars, but once you choose from the long, daily changing cheese menu, your selections will be plated together along with condiments like cornichons, quince paste and chocolate-fig jam.

3. Fitler Dining Room
Local honey, fresh fruit and nutty granola are some of the accompaniments you can expect chef Rob Marzinsky to place on the long wood board that carries your cheese selection at this Fitler Square gem. Choose three for $15 or five for $23.

fitlercheese

4. Southwark
Chef Sam Jacobson is now in charge of the long-running cheese program at Kip and Sheri Wade’s Queen Village lounge, where the $18 platter is a steal: hefty chunks of four different cheeses along with sliced apples, mixed roasted nuts and housemade jam in changing flavors like strawberry-black pepper.

5. Le Virtu
Following Italian tradition, the cheese plate is offered after your meal at this East Passyunk Abruzzese dining room. Under “dolci,” you’ll find a selection of four “formaggi” from Abruzzo's Porta dei Parchi and Valle Scannese farms ($14).

6. Crow & the Pitcher
If the gleaming cheese tray that rolls up to your table at this Rittenhouse Square tavern looks familiar, you’re not seeing things — George Perrier gifted one of Le Bec-Fin’s original carts to proprietor Michael Franco and chef Alex Capasso. A temperature-controlled cheese cave stores the delicacies you can choose from, available in groups of three for $17, five for $27 or 10 for $51, along with condiments like honey-pistachio butter and tomato-fennel compote.

cart

7. Garces Trading Company
The trio of cheese on the board at Jose Garces’ ode to global cuisine changes often, but one staple is the accompaniment of truffle-lavender honey, often plated next to garlic dulce de leche and seasonal compotes like cranberry-chile jam ($15).

8. Forest & Main
House-pickled vegetables threaten to steal the show when you order the cheese plate at this young Ambler brewpub. Pair them with two local cheeses for $13.50 or three for $15.50, and wash it all down with a pint of hand-pumped ale.

9. The Treemont
Elegant condiments like Asian pear and milk gel and pickled fennel on the cheese plates at Chip Roman’s Center City restaurant are balanced by the fact that instead of crostini or a fancy baguette, you’re served a very Philly pretzel bun. Each of half a dozen cheeses go for $6 each; mix and match your own assortment.

10. Barbuzzo
A variety of European cheeses waltz across the $17 board at Marcie Turney’s Midtown Village Mediterranean, supported by an impressive cast of condiments like toasted hazelnut honey, marcona almonds, roasted garlic mustard and membrillo quince paste.

barbuzzo

11. Osteria
After perfect Neapolitan pizza and roasted meat or fish, finish the evening at Jeffrey Michaud and Marc Vetri’s North Broad dining room with a very Italian dessert of cheeses. Choose three for $12 or five for $18. Be forewarned: you’ll get hooked on the tingle of the spicy candied artichoke mostarda served on the side.

12. Fork
Chef Eli Kulp selects mostly local cheeses for the offerings at this Old City favorite, pulling options from New Jersey and New England to supplement his Pennsylvania picks. Go with three for $13 or five for $18, and look forward to the toasted buckwheat cherry bread that serves to scoop them up.

13. London Grill
At chef Michael McNally and Terry Berch McNally’s neighborhood staple in Fairmount, the three cheeses on your $14 plate vary, and so do the condiments that come with the crisp crostini rounds. Expect seasonal jams like peach-basil and plum marmalade, along with a handful of almonds. 

14. Bar Ferdinand
Cheeses with a Spanish flair clap and swing their way across the board at this Northern Liberties tapas bar, served four at a time for $15. On the side, expect house-pickled vegetables, apple chutney, salted almonds and walnut-quince paste.

barcheese

15. White Dog Cafe
The local-sourcing trend got its start at Judy Wicks’ long-standing restaurant, and current proprietor Marty Grims still follows that mantra. Choose three from a list of eight local cheeses to make up your $16 board, served with apple butter, berry jam and marcona almonds.